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Tourist sites to raise admission fees
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-30 21:21

Some of Beijing's most famous tourist attractions may raise the cost of admission.

All the 21 delegates at a hearing yesterday agreed to proposals that the city's five world heritage sites -- such as the Imperial Palace, which is also known as Forbidden City, and the Great Wall -- raise tickets prices.

"The price adjustments may help raise funds for heritage protection so that we can better implement the World Heritage Convention and preserve the sites' original appearances and landscapes," said Zheng Xiaoxie, a renowned cultural relics expert who participated in yesterday's hearing.

According to the proposals, the price of admission at the Imperial Palace Museum during the low season, between November and March, will be raised to 80 yuan (US$9.6) from the current 40 yuan (US$4.8). During the busy season, between April and October, the price will go up to 100 yuan (US$12) from 60 yuan (US$7.2).

At the Badaling section of the Great Wall, ticket prices in off season will climb to 60 yuan (US$7.2) from 35 yuan (US$4.2), and during the peak period, the prices are expected to jump to 80 yuan (US$9.6).

Other heritage sites that will see higher admission prices include the Summer Palace, an imperial garden built in 1750, the Temple of Heaven, an imperial sacrificial altar built in 1420, and the Dingling and Changling tombs of the Ming Mausoleums where 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) were buried.

Wang Xiangyun, an official at a residents' committee of a community in Haidian District, said at the hearing that the current ticket prices are much lower than those of the tourist sites in other provinces.

For instance, ticket prices for the ancient city of Pingyao in North China's Shanxi Province is 120 yuan (US$14.5), and getting into the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, Northwest China's Gansu Province, costs 100 yuan (US$12), said Wang.

Lu Zhou, vice-president of the School of Architecture at Tsinghua University, said more than 90 per cent of the total income of the five heritage sites comes from ticket revenues, and this money barely meets the requirements of basic daily maintenance.

"The increased revenue raised from the price hikes can be used not only to improve the service level at these sites but also to repair cultural relics," said Lu.

The five heritage sites plan to plunge a total of 3 billion yuan (US$360 million) into rehabilitation in the next three years, according to the management offices of the sites.

However, many public delegates showed concern on whether the increased income will really be used for heritage protection and they called for a supervisory system.

Lang Danke, vice-director of the Beijing Consumers' Association, said management should provide audit reports in the future.

Most of the delegates also shared the view that the proposed ticket price hikes will not curb the increasing flow of visitors to the heritage sites already saturated by tourists. They called for management to adopt compulsory methods to limit the number of tourists.

Besides, most delegates suggest heritage sites be opened free to primary and middle students during selected days every month.

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